It has been argued that childhood is not a natural phenomenon but a creation of society. Philippe Ariès, an important French medievalist and historian, pointed this out in his book Centuries of Childhood. This theme was then taken up by Cunningham in his book the Invention of Childhood (2006) which looks at the historical aspects of childhood from the Middle Ages to what he refers to as the Post War Period of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
Ariès published a study in 1961 of paintings, gravestones, furniture, and school records. He found that before the 17th-century, children were represented as mini-adults. Since then historians have increasingly researched childhood in past times. Before Ariès, George Boas had published The Cult of Childhood.
During the Renaissance, artistic depictions of children increased dramatically in Europe. This did not impact the social attitude to children much, however—see the article on child labour.
The man usually credited with - or accused of - creating the modern notion of childhood is Jean Jacques Rousseau. Building on the ideas of John Locke and other 17th-century liberal thinkers, Rousseau formulated childhood as a brief period of sanctuary before people encounter the perils and hardships of adulthood. "Why rob these innocents of the joys which pass so quickly," Rousseau pleaded. "Why fill with bitterness the fleeting early days of childhood, days which will no more return for them than for you?"
The Victorian Era has been described as a source of the modern institution of childhood. Ironically, the Industrial Revolution during this era led to an increase in child labour, but due to the campaigning of the Evangelicals, and efforts of author Charles Dickens and others, child labour was gradually reduced and halted in England via the Factory Acts of 1802-1878. The Victorians concomitantly emphasized the role of the family and the sanctity of the child, and broadly speaking, this attitude has remained dominant in Western societies since then.
In the contemporary era Joe L. Kincheloe and Shirley R. Steinberg have constructed a critical theory of childhood and childhood education that they have labeled kinderculture. Kincheloe and Steinberg make use of multiple research and theoretical discourses (the bricolage) to study childhood from diverse perspectives—historiography, ethnography, cognitive research, media studies, cultural studies, political economic analysis, hermeneutics, semiotics, content analysis, etc. Based on this multiperspectival inquiry, Kincheloe and Steinberg contend that new times have ushered in a new era of childhood. Evidence of this dramatic cultural change is omnipresent, but many individuals in the late 20th century and early 21st century have not yet noticed it. When Steinberg and Kincheloe wrote the first edition of Kinderculture: The Corporate Construction of Childhood in 1997 (second edition, 2004) many people who made their living studying, teaching, or caring for children were not yet aware of the nature of the changes in childhood that they encountered daily.
In the domains of psychology, education, and to a lesser degree sociology and cultural studies few observers before kinderculture had studied the ways that the information explosion so characteristic of our contemporary era (hyperreality) had operated to undermine traditional notions of childhood and change the terrain of childhood education. Those who have shaped, directed and employed contemporary information technology have played an exaggerated role in the reformulation of childhood. Of course, information technology alone, Kincheloe and Steinberg maintain, has not produced a new era of childhood. Obviously, numerous social, cultural, and political economic factors have operated to produce such changes. The central purpose of kinderculture is to socially, culturally, politically, and economically situate the changing historical status of childhood and to specifically interroge the ways diverse media have helped construct what Kincheloe and Steinberg call "the new childhood." Kinderculture understands that childhood is an ever-changing social and historical artifact—not simply a biological entity. Because many psychologists have argued that childhood is a natural phase of growing up, of becoming an adult, Kincheloe and Steinberg coming from an educational context saw kinderculture as a corrective to such a "psychologization" of childhood.
Read more about this topic: Childhood
Other articles related to "history":
... The history of computing is longer than the history of computing hardware and modern computing technology and includes the history of methods intended for pen and ...
... believed that gambling in some form or another has been seen in almost every society in history ... France and Elizabethan England, much of history is filled with stories of entertainment based on games of chance ... In American history, early gambling establishments were known as saloons ...
... The Skeptical School of early Chinese history, started by Gu Jiegang in the 1920s, was the first group of scholars within China to seriously question the ... early Chinese history is a tale told and retold for generations, during which new elements were added to the front end" ...
... The breakup of Al-Andalus into the competing taifa kingdoms helped the long embattled Iberian Christian kingdoms gain the initiative ... The capture of the strategically central city of Toledo in 1085 marked a significant shift in the balance of power in favour of the Christian kingdoms ...
... History of Charles XII, King of Sweden (1731) The Age of Louis XIV (1751) The Age of Louis XV (1746–1752) Annals of the Empire – Charlemagne, A.D ... II (1754) Essay on the Manners of Nations (or 'Universal History') (1756) History of the Russian Empire Under Peter the Great (Vol ... II 1763) History of the Parliament of Paris (1769) ...
Famous quotes containing the word history:
“To care for the quarrels of the past, to identify oneself passionately with a cause that became, politically speaking, a losing cause with the birth of the modern world, is to experience a kind of straining against reality, a rebellious nonconformity that, again, is rare in America, where children are instructed in the virtues of the system they live under, as though history had achieved a happy ending in American civics.”
—Mary McCarthy (19121989)